Two Southeast air carriers combine

Posted: Monday, April 02, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Consolidation of Southeast Alaska's air carriers is continuing with the takeover of Alaska Coastal Airlines by Juneau-based Wings of Alaska.

Wings President Bob Jacobsen announced the buyout Thursday.

''This acquisition will make Wings and all carriers in the region stronger,'' Jacobsen said.

Increasing costs of insurance and fuel have pinched the bottom lines of Southeast's air carriers in recent years and are a factor in the pressures for consolidation, he said.

''The increased costs in the aviation business are providing incentives for those of us in the business to become more efficient,'' he said.

Alaska Coastal and Haines Airways have operated in Southeast Alaska since the mid-1980s and were bought in 1999 by Alaska Coastal Air Group, headed by Juneau physician Tom Hall.

The two companies merged and since January of this year have done business as Alaska Coastal. The company has provided regular passenger, cargo and mail service to Haines, Juneau, Gustavus and Hoonah, as well as charter flightseeing.

Wings, which has been in operation for two decades, flies about 30,000 passengers per year on scheduled flights, Jacobsen said, and 30,000 more on flightseeing tours during the tourist season. The summer flights largely subsidize operations the rest of the year, he said.

He estimated Coastal and Haines Airways carried more than 10,000 passengers per year.

The Wings fleet has 17 aircraft and expects to gain a couple of DeHavilland Beavers in the deal, Jacobsen said. The airline also is encouraging Alaska Coastal employees to apply for positions with Wings, he said.

Wings will maintain former Coastal and Haines routes and honor all outstanding tickets, said Holly Bierkortte, Wings director of marketing. Wings will also honor the Alaska Coastal and Haines Airways frequent-flyer mileage under the rules of Wings' own program.

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